Gambling is a popular pastime that can offer a thrilling rush when things move in your favor, but it can also be an expensive habit. In fact, many people end up in debt as a result of gambling and some even experience problems with their relationships and careers. Fortunately, there are ways to get help for your gambling addiction and rebuild your life. The first step is to recognize that you have a problem and be willing to admit it, which can be difficult for many people because they may feel shame or guilt over their addiction. The next step is to find a therapist who can help. You can use the world’s largest therapy service to get matched with a licensed, vetted therapist within 48 hours.
Gambling takes many forms. The most common form is putting money at risk on an event whose outcome is uncertain, with the goal of winning more than the amount that has been staked. This can be done with cash, or it can involve other materials that have a value, such as marbles or trading card game pieces. The term “gambling” can be misleading, because it suggests that there is some skill involved in the activity, but this is not always true. The vast majority of casino games, for example, are purely luck-based.
In the past, the psychiatric community viewed pathological gambling as a type of impulse control disorder, alongside other conditions such as kleptomania and pyromania (hair-pulling). However, this year, in what has been hailed as a major change, the APA moved gambling disorders into the section on addictions.
The main symptoms of a gambling problem include an urge to gamble, difficulty controlling gambling behavior and an inability to stop gambling. There is also a strong link between gambling and depression, and some people start to gamble as an attempt to escape from unpleasant emotions. Lastly, gambling can lead to financial ruin and is linked with suicide, so if you have thoughts of taking your own life, or feel you are in a desperate situation, contact the police or go to A&E immediately.
One of the best ways to tackle a gambling addiction is to strengthen your support network and make new friends who don’t spend time in casinos or online betting sites. You can also reduce financial risk factors by getting rid of credit cards, having someone else manage your money and closing betting accounts. You should also avoid using gambling as a social or work outlet and try to find new hobbies.
Another effective approach is cognitive behavioural therapy, which can teach you to challenge irrational beliefs about betting, such as the notion that a series of losses signals an imminent win. CBT can also teach you to recognise and respond to triggers, such as the compulsion to gamble, and learn healthy coping mechanisms. For severe cases of gambling addiction, inpatient or residential treatment and rehabilitation programs are available. This is an intensive program that aims to break the cycle of gambling addiction and give you the skills you need to stay sober.